The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a 16-man squad for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand last week. Shreyas Iyer has received a maiden call for the two-match Test leg starting from November 26.
Regular skipper Virat Kohli has been rested for the opening match and will be available in the second Test. In Kohli’s absence, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Indian team in first Test while Cheteshwar Pujara shall be his deputy.
Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant have been rested for the red-ball series.
Hanuma Vihari, who has a good number in Test matches, was overlooked while Shreyas has been picked in his place. Iyer has not played a single Test for India till now.
Shreyas is being prepared as a backup option in the middle order
Shreyas has been selected in the Test squad so that the right-hand batter can be groomed as a backup option in the middle order.
As per the reports, India head coach Rahul Dravid has advocated for shadow tours ahead of every big assignment. The major reason for excluding Vihari and Prithvi Shaw, and sending them to South Africa with India A is to make them ready for the conditions. If they do well there, then they will be inducted into the Test team against the Proteas in December.
“One must remember Dravid had advocated for shadow ‘A’ tours. before every big away tour. Anyway, a larger squad will be there in South Africa. This allows Vihari and Prithvi to get used to the conditions and if they do well they will be inducted into the Test team in South Africa. Anyway, India never needed specialist batters till No. 7 in India. Ravindra Jadeja can bat up the order and R Ashwin too has been good on Indian pitches,” a source close to the development told TOI.
India’s Test squad for New Zealand series:
Ajinkya Rahane (c), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara (vc), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), KS Bharat (wk), R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Md. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.